Gray, Knights too much for Patriots
BENNINGTON -- In the first few seconds off the tip, Rice sophomore Kendrick Gray took an outlet pass and attempted a dunk.
He missed, but neither Gray or the rest of the Green Knights missed much else in the season opener against Mount Anthony on Saturday.
Rice used a 21-0 run in the first quarter en route to a 91-58 victory over the Patriots as both teams started their seasons.
"They are the defending champs for a reason," said Mount Anthony coach Dan Sleeman. "They got out in transition and they were bigger, faster and stronger."
Gray, in his first game for Rice after transferring from North Country, led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds, including a number of dunks.
"That's kind of our thing, we have a lot of athletes and we work hard on transition offense," said Rice coach Paul Pecor. "At first we missed easy shots, I told them to calm down, we'll be fine." MAU took a 5-4 lead a couple minutes into the game, but were shut down for nearly the rest of the first quarter, only scoring again on a free throw from Sean Brundage with 40 seconds left in the frame.
"We were there early and then it snowballed on us. A lot of what we do is about pace, [our] substitute pattern and letting the guys get out and run," Sleeman said.
Brundage led the Patriots with 19 points, 11 coming from the charity stripe as he drove to the basket on many possessions.
"He was frustrated, the shots weren't falling," Sleeman said.
Rice increased its lead in the second quarter from the line as Mount Anthony got into foul trouble. In fact, Alec Little fouled out before halftime and Jason Redden fouled out halfway through the third quarter. The Knights led by 24, 55-31, at the break.
"We kept playing, I was impressed they played hard, and that's the positive from this," Sleeman said. "We didn't shoot well, they shot great, but we fought hard to the end. It's not about getting knocked down, it's about getting back up."
Pecor emptied his bench in the second half with a secure lead, as 12 players found the scoresheet, including sophomore guard Ben Shungu who had 13 points, and Ferran Lopez who added 12.
"Balance is the key," Pecor said. "To win [a state title], you need to have balance."
For MAU, Brad Anair was second in scoring with 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Evan Sparta added nine as well.
"We play at a fast pace, and we have a deep bench," Sleeman said. "You never hang your hat on game 1. I can tell you who ended my season all 14 years [I've coached], but I can't remember who we opened against. That was a very good team in midseason form. It's a good measuring stick early on. We'll just have to go back to work on Monday."
MAU drops to 0-1 and travels to Springfield on Wednesday.
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